Drugs by J. R. Helton
A Novel

36%

5 Critic Reviews

In an entire book dedicated to drug use, one would hope for some urgency, surreal tenderness, compelling danger or—at the very least—the cheap thrill of superficial glamour. Unfortunately, readers won't find any of that here...
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

Drugs is a story about Jake Stewart, a middle-class American from Texas who uses drugs and likes them. More importantly, he lives with them. 

In author J. R. Helton's hilarious prose, Jake inimitably narrates the ups and downs of being a functional user of marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, alcohol, nicotine, brand name hydrocodone, and countless other drugs readily available and commonly partaken of in modern America. We follow Jake on car rides with his coke dealer to menace connections in supermarket parking lots, buying prescription opiates from a megacorporate health and beauty clinic, falling in love with his wife while on a series of mushroom trips through San Antonio and Austin, binging on nitrous oxide canisters to spectral visions of Julianne Moore whispering his name. Along the way, Jake explains the effects of the drugs he's done--not only on his body but on his soul--and at the same time lampoons an America that pretends, against all reason, that drug use is the province of the weak and the socially outcast, while simultaneously getting high and profiting off of it: an America in which drug use is not just a part of the American mainstream, but may be one of the only sane responses to the American mainstream.

The contemporary heir of William S. Burroughs's classic Junky, J. R. Helton's novel Drugs shows us--through sly wit, deceptively powerful prose, and the unmistakable ring of truth--a side of America that most of us allow to remain hidden in plain sight.
 

About J. R. Helton

See more books from this Author
J.R. Helton has been writing for thirty years. He has published a number of short stories, as well as the memoirs Below the Line and Man and Beast. A French collection of his work, Au Texas Tu Serais Deja Mort, was published in March 2011 by 13e Note Editions in Paris. He lives in Texas.
 
Published May 15, 2012 by Seven Stories Press. 257 pages
Genres: Other, Humor & Entertainment, Literature & Fiction. Fiction
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Critic reviews for Drugs
All: 5 | Positive: 1 | Negative: 4

Kirkus

Below average
May 01 2012

Alas, Helton’s tone is as affectless as the Texas plains...Find something interesting to do—and something interesting to read.

Read Full Review of Drugs: A Novel | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Below average
Jun 18 2012

In an entire book dedicated to drug use, one would hope for some urgency, surreal tenderness, compelling danger or—at the very least—the cheap thrill of superficial glamour. Unfortunately, readers won't find any of that here...

Read Full Review of Drugs: A Novel | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Current

Excellent
Reviewed by Scott Andrews on May 16 2012

Helton's dryly humorous and unsentimental descriptions of the effects of marijuana, cocaine, MDMA, alcohol, nicotine, hydrocodone (and many other illicit and legal substances) are full of the self-honesty praised by recovery groups.

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The Austin Cut

Below average
Reviewed by Brandon Roberts on Jun 01 2012

Helton makes the mistake of believing that drug using—the action all by itself—is interesting and builds the entire book around it... He makes a big show out of an extreme stereotype and worst of all it’s not even funny.

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Prairie Fire Review of Books

Below average
Reviewed by Shawn Syms

...enumerating a compendium of every substance the character has ever taken is at crosspurposes with effective narrative drive...The book might have benefited from a less fractured and more orthodox structure, especially given Helton’s fairly conventional approach to prose.

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Reader Rating for Drugs
77%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 13 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


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